Lords of the Blog
Until recently, online engagement by peers has been an individual matter; several had set up blogs and have websites; previously, there were no links between them and the lack of any institutional oversight meant that attempts to engage the public in the workings of the upper house were diffuse. The idea of a collaborative blog first emerged during a discussion between Lord Soley and the Hansard Society eDemocracy programme in June 2007. Members of the House of Lords staff were involved from the outset to guarantee that the emerging platform fulfilled its institutional requirements; over the next few months, peers were recruited to contribute to the blog, and an agreement was reached regarding its evaluation and design.
In January, 2008, the authors began to post on the blog which was – as yet – not open to the public. The idea was to provide them with a testing phase, during which they could familiarise themselves with the website and with the experience of blogging; training was available, and interactions with site visitors simulated so that authors were confident about their involvement.
Lords of the Blog was launched in March 2008 and coverage of the blog was instant both from the blogsphere and in the general media. Because of the quality of posts made during the testing period, site visitors were able to read and comment on entries dating back to January 2008; authors made new posts and began to respond to users immediately after launch.
Lords of the Blog has been a great success, attracting higher volumes of traffic on a more sustained basis we anticipated. It has received overwhelmingly positive feeback in the media and the comments from visitors too are complimentary.